Since deciding to live in a rural area full-time, I've learned to have pretty low expectations when it comes to locals tolerating gay people, including myself. I know how pathetic it sounds, but it's almost enough for me to not be harassed when I'm walking down the street and to not be picked on by coworkers. With that in mind, I was pleasantly surprised, if not mildly shocked, by something that happened last night.
There's a town about an hour north of here where a local theater company is putting on The Laramie Project. Earlier this year, TLP was a big deal because the main high school in town wanted to do it, but school administrators decided the subject matter was "too adult" for students and audience members. Fortunately, a local theater group in the town took on the project because they felt the play's message is more important than the "adult subject matter." The play is going to be running this weekend, and there's a pretty strong rumor floating around that the Westboro Baptist Church is going to show up to protest the show.
I am privy to this rumor because we covered it at work last night. To be honest, I thought my coworkers would be, at best, indifferent to the idea of the WBC, but I overheard my director and another production staffer expressing extreme dismay that we would even mention the WBC because they don't deserve air-time. What's more is, we ran an interview with the mayor of the town where the play is going on, and his feelings about the issue were pretty clear: he doesn't want the WBC to show up, and he encouraged locals to just ignore them if they do appear.
I guess I shouldn't be too surprised because you would have to be a serious monster to want to support the WBC, but like I said, I have pretty low expectations for the people around here.